The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Faith wears out in the heart of any one of you just as clothes wear out, so ask Allah to renew the faith in your hearts” (Mustadrak al-Haakim).
Our Iman is not always as sound and as strong as we want it to be, as it often fluctuates according to life circumstances and situations. Sometimes our hearts will be illuminating full of imaan and other times our hearts will be devoid of much iman. There are occassions such as a funeral or the month of Ramadan when our hearts get a regular fill of imaan and other occassions like worldly events or work etc where our heart is devoid of much needed iman.
Regardless of the cause, it is crucial for all of us to keep a regular check on our Iman and if we feel it is faltering in any way then we should take measures to restore it. Imaan leaves the body as quickly as water leaves a bottle when it is turned upside down. Therefore we must constantly keep a check on our level of imaan and ensure it is regularly topped up to ensure that our hearts are constantly filled with an adequate level of faith.
Therefore we should be aware of which things decrease our Iman in order to avoid them and those things that increase our Iman in order to embrace them.
What are the signs of a weak imaan?
Signs of weak imaan:
• Committing sins and not feeling any guilt.
• Having a hard heart and no desire to read the Quran.
• Feeling too lazy to do good deeds, e.g. being late for salat
• Neglecting the Sunnah.
• Having mood swings, for instance being upset about petty things and bothered and irritated most of the time.
• Not feeling anything when hearing verses from the Quran, for example when Allah warns us of punishments and His promise of glad tidings.
• Finding difficulty in remembering Allah and making dhikr.
• Not feeling bad when things are done against the Shariah.
• Desiring status and wealth.
• Being mean and miserly, i.e. not wanting to part with wealth.
• Ordering others to do good deeds when not practising them ourselves.
• Feeling pleased when things are not progressing for others.
• Being concerned with whether something is haram or halal only; and not avoiding makroo (not recommended) things.
• Making fun of people who do simple good deeds, like cleaning the mosque.
• Not feeling concerned about the situation of Muslims.
• Not feeling the responsibility to do something to promote Islam.
• Being unable to deal with calamities, for instance crying and yelling in funerals.
• Liking to argue just for the sake of arguing without any proof.
• Becoming engrossed and very involved with dunya, worldly things, i.e. feeling bad only when losing something in terms of material wealth.
• Becoming engrossed and obsessive about ourselves.
The following are 10 ways that we can illuminate our hearts with Iman starting from today!
1. Recognise and Repent
As humans we all err and commit sins no matter how hard we try to avoid them because we were created to be imperfect and make mistakes. Unfortunately engaging in much sin and evil deeds actually decreases our Iman. Actions like lying, cheating, backbiting, slandering, gossiping and stealing etc, to name only a few, take a toll on the human heart and soul which makes us more susceptible to being lead astray from the Path of Allah. It is therefore incumbant upon us to reflect upon our daily deeds and remove the ones that are contrary to the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
Almighty Allah says: “Seek forgiveness of your Lord and then turn to Him in repentance.” (Qur’an, Hud: 3).
” … and turn you all together in repentance to Allah O believers, that you may be successful” An-Noor (24:31)
Allah has gifted us with an innate sense of justice and the ability to reason and make sound judgements. Our fitrah (natural disposition) necessitates that we all know when we are committing a sin. And if we don’t know, we certainly have a bevy of resources to find out from!
Conditions for the acceptance of repentance
In order to gain forgiveness then scholars have stated that the following conditions must be met:
They are as follows:
• First: Giving up of the sin itself.
• Second: Remorse over what has been committed.
• Third: A resolve not to repeat it, and, Fourth: Compensating those who have been wronged or obtaining their forgiveness.
So we must try to make it a habit to be in constant repentance for Allah loves those who repent and he finds any excuse to forgive his slaves as he is most gracious most merciful and we can never begin to comprehend his infinite generosity and mercy.
The Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) states: “Allah is more delighted with the repentance of His servant than one of you would be, who suddenly finds his camel laden with supplies after losing it in a barren land” (Bukhari, Muslim)
Allah is most happy when his slave turns to him in meekness and in humility begging for forgiveness and mercy:
“Surely Allah loves those who turn unto him in repentance…” (2:222)
So repent, repent and repent and know that Allah loves those who repent!!!
2. Perform Salah Regularly
Allah Almighty says in the Holy Qur’an:
The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses -this Qur’an- are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone); Who perform salah and spend out of that We have provided them. It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and Forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise)” (Qur’an, Al-Anfal: 2-4).
Prayer: the most important aspect of faith after the Shahada:
Having faith in the Shahada is the most fundamental aspect of the Islamic faith. The second most fundamental aspect of our faith is the Salaah (prayer). Surely then with this being one of the most important and practised acts of faith, then it must have a very strong connection with our level of iman on a day to day basis.
The prayer: A daily meeting with the creator of the Universe:
The prayer is a sacred act by which a slave meets with his lord 5 times a day. This is meeting is direct without any intermediary. It is us standing in front of our lord talking to him DIRECTLY! We are asking of his help and mercy. We are conversing with the creator of the universe. Which president or leader of this world would ever give us the time of day that our creator does? The lord of universe pays each one of us invidual special attention when we stand in front of him. NOTHING can be as special as that.
Concentrating in prayer:
But in order for us to feel such a special feeling then we have to ensure that we not only pray our 5 daily prayers on time but that we clear our minds of all worldly things and stand in front of him and imagine him watching us and reflect over the words that we are reciting. The Salaah is a coolness for our eyes and it connects us with our creator on a daily basis, therefore having a significant impact on our level of imaan on a daily basis. So if we want to increase our level of imaan then nothing will increase it more than praying the 5 daily Salaah.
Nothing brings us closer to Allah than when we are in prostration:
The Prophet (sallallahu alaihe wa-sallam) said: “The closest the slave will draw to his Lord, is when he is performing Sujood (prostrating while praying)” [Saheeh Muslim]
It is also a means of forgiveness of sins:
Jabir ibn Abdullah (RA) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: The similitude of five prayers is like an overflowing river passing by the gate of one of you in which he washes five times daily. Hasan said: No filthiness can remain on him. (Muslim 4: 1411)
But for the people who don’t pray:
Informing us about the inhabitants of Hell, Almighty Allah says “(The people in Hell will be asked “What has caused you to enter Hell? They will say: “We were not of those who used to offer their Salât (prayers). Nor did we feed the poor. And we used to talk falsehood (all that which Allaah hated) with vain-talkers. And we used to belie thc Day of Recompense. Until there came to us that which is certain (i.e., death). So no Intercession of intercessors will benefit them. (Qur’an,Al-Muddaththir: 42-48)
There is no guarantee for the person who does pray:
Abu Qatada, Bin Rab’i (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) , said, “Allâh the Exalted said: ‘I made five times (daily) prayers obligatory on your people. And I took a guarantee that if anyone observes them regularly at their times, I shall admit him to Paradise. If anyone does not offer them regularly, there is no such guarantee of Mine for him.” (Abu Dawood 430)
The prayer distinguishes between a believer and a disbeliever:
The Prophet (Sallallahu Aiahi Wasallam) said “The covenant between us and them is prayer, so if anyone abandons it he has become a disbeliever.” (Agreed upon by Ahmad, Tirmidhee & Nasaa’ee)
In an other Hadith, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said “What lies between a man and disbelief is the abandonment of prayer.” (Muslim, Abu Dawood & Nasaa’ee)
Therefore there is no choice in the fact that we must pray because it is an obligation upon us and what more beautiful act than that which enables us to meet with our Lord, converse with him, ask of his help and mercy 5 times daily.
So let us establish the prayer and NEVER abandon it!
3. Reciting the Qur’an
The psysiological effects of the Qur’an:
Medical studies have shown that simply listening to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an has a positive physiological effect on our bodies. Research has also proven that the Qur’an has healing qualities on the body, mind and spirit.
Reflecting upon the verses of the Qur’an:
So the best way to increase our imaan is to recite the Qur’an and reflect, ponder and contemplate over its meanings and implement whatever Allah has ordained in the Qur’an.
“Those to whom We gave the book (the Qur’an) recite it as it should be recited, they are the ones that believe therein. And who disbelieves in it (the Qur’an), those are the losers.”(Qur’an, Baqarah: 121)
Umar (Ra), said about reciting the Qur’an the way it should be recited: “They (the ones who really recite Qur’an) are the ones who, when they pass by a verse of mercy, asked it from Allah, and when they pass by a verse of punishment, they seek refuge from it, like the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to do.
Almighty Allah stresses that the purpose of revealing the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) is to help mankind to reflect upon his verses and to understand them, so the verses will be a reminder for them.
Allah says: “(This is) a book (the Qur’an) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings that they may ponder over its verses, and that men of understanding may remember.” (Qur’an, Saad:29)
Allah scorns those who do not reflect upon Qur’an and do not understand its meanings. Allah says: “Do they not then think deeply in the Qur’an, or are their hearts locked up (from understanding)?” (Qur’an, Muhammad:24)
Reflecting over the verses of the Qur’an increases the imaan of the believers:
Therefore every verse in the Qur’an should increase the iman of the believers, while at the same time it increases the ungratefulness of the non-believers.
Allah says: “And whenever there comes down a surah, some of them say: “Which of you has his iman increased by it ? As for those who believe, it has increased their iman, and they rejoice. But as for those in whose hearts is a disease, it will add suspicion and doubt to their suspicion, disbelief and doubt, and they die while they are disbelievers.”(Qur’an;Tawbah: 124,25)
So what better way to increase our own Iman than to recite the verses of the Qur’an and to reflect, ponder and contemplate over its meanings by reading its translation, comentar and tafseer in order to delve into its deeper meanings.
Although reciting the Qur’an ourselves is far better and far more reward, we can also listen to the recitation of the Qur’an on an audio device! Listening to the melodious rhythm of the Qur’an and while doing so try to reflect upon its meanings by reading the translation or tafseer of the verses alongside it.
Acting upon the verses of the Qur’an:
It is also important to act upon what we have read as we will be accountable on the day of judgement for not acting upon the verses of the Qur’an.
The Sahaba used to reflect upon the verses of the Qur’an and apply them in their lives, verses of the Qur’an were instructions for them to be acted upon and not merely to be read or memorised.
Therefore, when the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) mentioned the virtues of reciting the Qur’aan, he encouraged the Sahabah to read the Qur’an as much as they could, and act according to its instructions.
So in order to gain the rewards of reciting Qur’an and to benefit from reflecting over the meanings of its verses, it is also important that we act in accordance to its commandments. Allah says: “Verily, there is indeed a reminder for him who has a heart or gives ear while he is heedful.” (Qur’an; Qaf (50): 37)
4. Engaging in Dhikr (Remembrance of Allah)
When the signs of the Gracious Allah are recited unto them, they fall down, prostrating themselves before Allah weeping.(19:59)
Increasing iman by remembering Allah:
Iman comes from the heart. Therefore the best way of increasing our iman is to give the heart what it needs at all times. So what does our heart need? What does it crave for? What is the food of the heart? It is the remembrance of Allah:
“…Verily, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (13:28)
Surely then if we want our iman to be high at all times then we must try our best to remember Allah at all times. The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) used to make remembrance of Allah at all times and also encouraged us to do the same. When a man complained, “The laws of Islam are too heavy for me, so tell me something that I can easily follow,” the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) told him, “Let your tongue be always busy with the remembrance of Allah.” (Ahmad).
Hearts of those who remember Allah :
Abu Musa Al-Ash`ari (Ra) reported: The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “The similitude of one who remembers his Lord and one who does not remember Him, is like that of the living and the dead.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Remembering Allah through acts of dhikr brings much peace and tranquility to the heart. It also gives us a sense of taqwa (fear of allah), a consciousness that makes us realise that Allah Almighty is ever near and watching us at all times and that we should always strive to please Him and refrain from anything which angers and displeases him.
Remembering Allah night & day:
O ye who believe, remember Allah much. And glorify Him morning and evening (33:42-43)
The more we remember Allah the more our hearts and souls will be kept well fed and illuminated with iman, peace and tranquility.
Therefore the following are 10 short Dhikr we can recite everyday. One can recite each 100 times which makes a total of 1000 Dhikr a day minimum as a target:
3) Allahu Akbar
4) Laa ilaaha illallah,
5) La hawla Wala Quwwata Illah Billah-Hil Aliyyil Adheem,
6) Asthaghfirullah-halladhee Laa ilaaha illa-huwal Hayyul Qayyuumu Wa athoobu Ilay, Short version: Asthaghfirullah
7) SUB-HAAN’ALLAAHi WA BI-HAM’DIHI SUB-HAAN’ALLAH-IL ADHEEM
Short version: SUB-HAAN’ALLAAHi WA BI-HAM’DIHI
8) Subhāna-llāhi, wa-l-hamdu li-llāhi, wa lā ilāha illā-llāhu, wa-llāhu akbar. Wa lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā bi-llāhi-l-aliyyi-l-azīm
9) Lā ilāha illā-llāhu waḥdahu lā sharīka lahu lahu-l-mulku wa lahu-l-ḥamdu yuhyi wa yumītu wa huwa ḥayyu-llā yamūtu abadan abada, ḏū-l-jalāli wa-l-ikrām, biyadihi-l-khayr, wa huwa alā kulli Shay-in qadīr
Short version: Laa ilaaha illal-laahu wahdahu laa shareeka lahu, lahul-mulku
wa lahul-hamdu wa huwa ‘alaa kulli shay-in qadeer
10) Subhan Allahi wa bi hamdihi `adada khalqihi wa rida nafsihi wa zinata `arshihi wa midada kalimatihi
Do so much Dhikr that people think you are insane:
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “Engage in the Dhikr of Allah in such abundance that people comment that ‘you are insane’.” (Ahmed)
Utter regret for each second wasted without remembering Allah:
Mu`adh Ibn Jabal (RA) said that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “The People of Paradise will not regret anything except one thing alone: the hour that passed them by in which they made no remembrance of Allah.” (Bayhaqi in Shu`ab al-iman (1:392 #512-513))
Dhikr done in places where others don’t remember Allah:
Remember:in a place where people are oblivious to dhikir, the remembrance of Allah is like being steadfast in jihad, when others are running away. (Targhib, p. 193, vol. 3 ref. Bazar and Tibrani)
Dhikr can be done anywhere and anytime:
“Celebrate God’s praises, standing, sitting down, or lying on your sides.” (Qur’an;Nisaa:103).
During night or day, on firm ground or on in the sea, on a trip or at home, in wealth or poverty, in sickness or in health, in secret or announced, in all situations.
SO the more we remember Allah the more our Iman will increase each and everyday and the more our hearts and souls will be illuminated in peace and tranquility!
5. Voluntary Fasting
The benefits of fasting are both physical and spiritual:
There are many benefits to fasting both physical and spiritual. It is an act of obedience, love and submission to Allah. This submission and commitment is based upon the love of Allah and the earnest effort to gain His pleasure and to avoid His displeasure. Fasting trains the believer in taqwa (being mindful of Allah). If a person, willingly, refrains from lawful food and conjugal relations during the fasting period, he/she is likely to be in better position to refrain from the unlawful.
Fasting increases sincerety:
Fasting also trains the believer in sincerity (Ikhlaas). Unlike other acts of worship it is entirely based on self-restraint. Others can never know for sure whether the person is fasting or pretending to do so pretending to do so [while eating or drinking in secret].
Fasting is striving in the path of Allah and teaches self-discipline and enhances one’s ability to master his/her appetites and desires rather than being enslaved by them.
Fasting not limited to Ramadan:
Fasting is not limited to Ramadan as one may fast voluntarily throughout the year to gain the above benefits to the heart and soul. Voluntary fasting can be done all year around apart from the few times when it is prohibited or disliked.
Fasting Mondays and Thursdays:
`Aa’ishah said: The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, used to fast Mondays and Thursdays”. [An-Nasaa’i; Sahih]
Abu Hurairah reported that the most the Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa salam, would fast would be Monday and Thursday. He was asked about that and he said: “The deeds of people are presented to Allah on every Monday and Thursday. Allah forgives every Muslim except for those who are deserting each other. He says: “leave them for later.” [Ahmad; Hasan]
Intention for voluntary fasting
As opposed to Ramadan, the intention does not have to be made before dawn. The person can intend fasting [and start fasting] after dawn any time [even after noon] given that he did not eat anything.
`Aa’ishah said : The Prophet, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, came to us one day and said, “Do you have any [food]?” We said “No”. He said: Therefore, I am Fasting”. [Muslim and Abu Dawood]
Fasting three days of every month(White days):
Abu Tharr Al-Ghefari said: “The Messenger of Allah, salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam, said “O Abu Tharr! if you fast three days of every month, then fast the 13th, the 14th and the 15th [these are call the al-ayaam al-beedh, the white days]”. [Ahmad, an-Nasaa’i and at-Tirmithi; Sahih]
“Fasting and the Qur’an will intercede for the slave on the Day of Resurrection. Fasting will say: ‘O My Rabb! I prevented him from food and desires, so accept my intercession for him.’ And the Qur’an will say: ‘I prevented him from sleep during the night, so accept my intercession for him.’ He (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: ‘And they will (be allowed to) intercede.’” [Ahmad, at-Tabarani, Al-Hakim, Sahih]
Fasting to increase Iman:
Therefore we should try and fast every Mondays and Thursdays, if not then at least 3 days each month which fall on the 13th, 14th and 15th of each Islamic month. This will have a very positive effect on our levels of imaan as we fast purely for the pleasure of Allah and in turn cleanse and illuminate our hearts and souls with iman, peace and tranquility.
6. Increase in Good deeds
It is a simple equation: Our Iman (faith) is increased by doing good deeds and actions and is decreased by committing bad deeds. So in order for us to increase our Iman on a daily basis we must:
Increase in doing good deeds and actions and refrain from committing sins particularly major sins – as major sins have a negative effect on one’s level of Iman.
The best deeds are those done consistantly:
One good deed leads to another good deed. Allah will make the way easy for someone who gives charity and also make it easy for them to do good deeds. Good deeds should be done continuously, not in spurts. As the best action is that which is done consistantly even if it is small:
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “The best deeds are those we are consistent with, even if they are small deeds.” (Bukhari)
Abu Dhar (Ra) narrates that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Do not disdain any good deed, even your meeting with your Muslim brother with a cheerful face.” (Muslim)
Doing good deeds increases imaan:
By increasing in good deeds and obedience, one nears himself to Allah, increases his iman, and purifies himself. He is less likely to fall into his base desires and worldly pleasures, keeping himself safe from the evils of society by strengthening his soul and weakening his nafs.
A person with low iman should begin by performing the obligatory duties imposed on him, such as performing the five daily prayers at their fixed times and fasting. He should stop committing major sins and eventually begin performing more voluntary and permissible acts of worship and obedience and refrain from minor sins and disliked acts to the best of his ability. When a person refrains from as many sins as possible and does as many good deeds as he can, most importantly his obligatory duties, he weakens Satan against him, which gives him a bigger chance of success. Allah says:
O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and do not make your deeds vain. (Surah Muhammad 47:33)
One should make sure that everything he does that which will only benefit him both in this world and in the hereafter. There is no point in doing something that will cause hurt to ones soul and add more weight to ones evil deeds. It is very important and beneficial to follow the Sunnah. The Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) was the best of mankind and Allah chose him to show us our ways. If we follow him, we are sure to succeed in both worlds, Insha Allah. But if we reject his way and follow our own lusts or the way of the disbelievers then we will only destroy ourselves. To be sure that ones deeds will increase the iman, one should do only that which Allah and His Messenger (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) have taught and in that way, one can be safe from bidah and misguidance.
Then, as for those who have faith and do good deeds, He will pay them fully their rewards and give them more out of His grace and as for those who disdain and are proud, He will punish them with a painful doom. And they shall not find for themselves besides Allah any guardian or helper. (Surat an-Nisaa 4:173)
In the following verse, Allah emphasises the importance of iman and doing good deeds along with ones belief:
There shall be no sin unto those who believe and do good deeds for what they may have eaten (in the past); so be mindful of your duty (to Allah) and do good deeds and again be mindful of your duty and believe and once again, be mindful of your duty and do good deeds. Allah loves the good! (Surat al-Maidah 5:93)
The life of the world is only a test for the creation and one day this test will end. It is the responsibility of each human and jinn to prepare themself for the final scoring of the test by being mindful of one’s duty towards Allah by following the guidance of the Quran and the Sunnah and keeping ones iman high. A weak iman will lead one to the Hellfire, while a strong one will lead one to the Gardens of Delight. The reason is because it is the iman that determines the actions of a person. A person with weak or even no iman will commit sin and cause Allah to be displeased, causing him to be thrown into the Hellfire to be punished. But a person with a strong faith will refrain from sins and perform good deeds, which will be the cause of Allahs pleasure and his entrance into Paradise.
May Allah enable us to increase in good deeds and refrain from minor and major sins so that our iman can be high at all times. Ameen
7. Remembering death and the Hereafter
“Every soul shall taste death, and We shall make a trial of you with evil and good, and to Us you will return.” (Qur’an; 21:35)
Nothing an escape death:
From the above verse it is clear that we cannot escape from death. Even if we were in the far reaches of the Earth hidden away in a remote valley or deep within a cave, death shall find us. It matters not if we are baby’s, toddlers, teenagers, adults, elderly, ill, healthy, leaders, kings, Death does not distinguish us from our position or status in this world. It will never arrive late nor will it be delayed in anyway but it will take us at the exact time it was appointed for. The problem for us is that we do not know when our time is up and it maybe that death arrives for any of us at any second.
The realisation that death can take us at any second:
The realisation that death can take us at any second should shock us into immediate action. It should make us realise that we have no time to waste as each second that goes by could be our very last. Therefore we must prepare for our deaths NOW and we should realise that we are on borrowed time. This life is merely a journey until we reach our final destination in the hereafter.
Abu Hurairah (Ra) narrated that the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said,“Hasten to do good deeds before six things happen: the rising of the sun from the west, the smoke, the Dajjal, the beast and (the death) of one you or the general turmoil.” (Muslim 7039)
Therefore on a daily basis we should contemplate, ponder and reflect upon this realisation and it will have a significant impact upon our iman, as it will make us realise the temporary nature of this life and the fact that the real life is that of the hereafter which is for eternity. It will also make us realise that each second that goes by can NEVER be regained.
Daqaq (Ra) says, ‘Who ever remembers death frequently, will benefit in three ways: he will hasten to repent, he will become content, and he will be active in worship. Whoever forgets death will be punished in three ways: he will delay repentance, he will no longer be content with what is sufficient, and he will be lazy in worship.’
Remembering death and the Hereafter to cure a weak iman:
The Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “You should remember the reality that brings an end to all worldly joys and pleasures, namely, death.” (Tabarani)
Remembering the Hereafter is also a cure for weak iman. When one is one hundred percent certain of the Last Day, Paradise, and Hellfire and feels fear of the mere thought of standing before the All-Powerful Creator and be questioned and judged for each of his thoughts, sayings and deeds, he is bound to think twice before committing an act of disobedience. One should remember the Day of Judgement often, which is repeatedly mentioned in the Quran to remind mankind that he will surely be returned to his Lord.
So we must remember, ponder, reflect and contemplate frequantly the reality of the Hereafter and the breaker of worldly pleasures i.e. death. One way of doing this is to visit the graves, for it is a means of remembrance of death and the hereafter, and it guides a slave to the Straight Path.
We must fear the miserable end to our lives; the remembrance of death is the destroyer of pleasures.
Prepare for death now:
Therefore it is only logical that a wise person would begin by making preperations for death now, for if we are unprepared and taken by death then what good will we have to show when we face Allah? What investments have we made for the hereafter? Have we fulfilled our obligations unto Allah? Have we done the best we can to please Allah and refrain from that which he forbade from us?
If the answer is no then we must act right now and not delay another second!
8. Gaining knowledge
Knowledge is one of the most essential key factors in increasing ones iman. It leads to certainty in the heart, assurance in the mind, and peace felt by the soul. Almighty Allah has said:
It is only those who have knowledge among His slaves that fear Allah. (Qur’an; al-Malaaikah; 35:28)
To seek knowledge is a sacred duty:
To seek knowledge is a sacred duty, it is obligatory on every Muslim, male and female. The first word revealed of the Qur’an was “Iqra” – READ! Seek knowledge! Educate yourselves! Be educated.
Knowing Allah through his beautiful names:
An increase in knowledge leads to acknowledging Allah in every moment of one’s life through taqwa (fearful awareness of Allah), which leads to a firm iman. The type of knowledge we are discussing is knowing that Allah is One and has no partners, wives, children, or equals. It is knowing Allah through His beautiful Names and Attributes; that Allah is the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that it contains. He is the Preserver, as well as the One Who destroys. He gives life and takes it whenever He wills. His knowledge encompasses all things and nothing can ever be hidden from Him.
And with Him are the keys of the invisible. None but He knows them. And He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falls but He knows it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, nor anything wet or dry but (it is noted) in a Clear Record. (Qur’an; al-Anaam 6:59)
He hears the cries of His servants all at once and is not confused by the countless different number of voices and languages and He is Ever Responding. He is the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Giver of Bounties. He forgives whomever He wills and punishes whomever He wills. He is the Just, the Merciful, and does no wrong to His creation. He sees all things. Not a black ant on a black stone on a black moonless night is hidden from His sight. To Him belongs all praise and glory! He is the Most Great, the Incomparable!
A person of knowledge is not equal to a person without knowledge:
A person who has knowledge of Allah is not like a person who simply states “La ilaha illallah” and knows nothing else about its meaning and its impact in the life of a true believer.
Likewise, a person who has knowledge about Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaiyhi wa sallam) and his life, noble characteristics, truthful teachings, and exemplary actions and has faith in what he informed his Ummah concerning the torment and bliss in the grave, the Last Day, the Reckoning, the questioning of ones deeds, the scale, the bridge, the rewards of Paradise, and the torments of Hellfire is unlike the person who has no such knowledge or belief. A person with this knowledge will have a purpose and goal in life, which is to obey Allah to the best of his ability and remind himself of the rewards and punishments he may earn depending upon his iman and his deeds.
There is no doubt that knowledge plays a big role in increasing the iman of a weak heart and Allah says it beautifully:
Are those who know, equal to those who know not? (Qur’an; az-Zumar; 39:9)
The second key factor, which affects the iman are ones deeds. They can either decrease the iman and weaken the heart and soul or increase it, as well as strengthening the heart and soul. Once a person gains knowledge about something, he should accept it and put it into practice. If a person accepts the forbidden as forbidden and the permissible as permissible, but refuses to act upon it, thereby disobeying Allah and committing sin, not to mention hurting his own soul, he has suppressed his iman. The basis of iman is to accept and practice.
So learn, learn and act upon what you learn!
9. Making Dua (Supplication)
Verily every Dua is answered by Allah:
Dua is defined as an invocation, supplication or prayer that one make’s directly to Allah. But many of us are negligent when it comes to making Dua. We find reasons not to make Dua when we really should be turning to Allah. When we do make Dua then we lose hope thinking why our Dua’s are not being answered.
As Muslims there is something very wrong when we believe our Duas won’t be answered. We do not turn to Allah in our times of need and instead put our trust, dependence and hopes on worldly things that we think will help us. But what we should do as believers is to ask of Allah with meekness and humility and put all of our hopes, trust , faith and reliance upon him. We should never think that our Dua’s are not being answered as it maybe that Allah will answer it in ways we never imagined by opening other doors or giving us better in return whether in this world, the Hereafter or both.
Aisha (Ra) said, “No believer makes Dua and it is wasted. Either it is granted here in this world or deposited for him in the Hereafter as long as he does not get frustrated.”
So we must have firm conviction when making dua that it will be accepted somehow or another:
No Muslim ever makes Dua with it but Allah answers it.” [Tirmidhi]
And let not there be anyone who says:
“… my Lord won’t answer my prayer, because of this and that.. or because of so and so..”. No! Indeed Allah is the Most Generous King. Is there anyone who met a king, and praised and glorified him, and then asked, yet the request was not granted? So what about Allah, the King of the Heavens and the Earth – who has total control over your life, your wealth and your future. Why would He not grant you your request?
Indeed, our beloved Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has said:
“Verily your Lord is the One modest and Generous, and when His servant raises his hands to Him in supplication, He is diffident (in some wordings, shy or hesitant) from returning them empty handed.” [Ahmad, Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi – Hasan]
Strengthening our iman through Dua:
Through Dua, we strengthen our Imaan and our relationship with Allah, as well as heighten our awareness of cause and effect that can help inspire and motivate us to be closer to our deen (way of life) and closer to our creator, in our lives.
We find many reassurances throughout the Quran for those who make Dua. Allah the Exalted, has said: “And your Lord says: Pray unto me: and I will hear your prayer” (Quran 40:60), “Call upon your Lord Humbly and in secret” (Quran 7:55),
“When My servants question thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me” (Quran 2:186), “Is not He (best) who listens to the (soul) distressed when it calls on Him, and who relieves its suffering.” (Quran 27:62)
In fact, it is disliked by Allah never to make Dua:
“Whosoever does not supplicate to Allah, He will be angry with Him.”[Saheeh Jaami`as-Sagheer #2414]
In order to warn those who are arogant, or careless in making duaa, the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said: “The most incapable person is the one who does not make du`a, and the most miserly person is the one who does not give salaam.” [Sahih Al-Jami` no. 1055]
Make Dua in every condition:
We can and should make Dua in every condition, i.e. in hardship and in prosperity. If we just make Dua to Allah in hardship and trials then why should he answer us when we don’t make Dua to him when we are happy and prosperous? Therefore let us turn to him in Dua in every condition.
There are also some special times to make Dua where it is more likely to be accepted:
1. When one is oppressed
2. Between the time of Athan and Iqama
3. At the time of the call for prayer
4. At the time of fighting when warriors are engaged with each other
5. When it is raining
6. When one is sick
7. The last third of the night
8. Ramadan (especially during the night of Lailatul Qadr)
9. After the Fard part of prayer
10. When traveling
11. When breaking fast
12. In Sujood (prostration)
13. Fridays, some say on Friday after Asr prayer
14. While drinking the water from the well of Zamzam
15. At the start of prayer (Dua of Istiftah)
16. When one begins the prayer, i.e. with “all praise be to
Allah, the Pure and the Blessed one”
17. While one recites al-Fatiha (which is a Dua)
18. When Ameen is said in the prayer (also relating to Fatiha)
19. At the time of raising the head after the Rukoo
20. In the last part of the prayer after conveying blessings unto the Prophet (SAW)
21. Before finishing the prayer (before Tasleem (saying the Salaam to the angels))
22. At the end of Wudu
23. On the day of Arafah
24. On waking up from sleep
25. At times of adversity
26. Prayer after the death of a person
27. Dua when someone’s heart is filled with sincerity and when it is focused on Allah
28. Dua of the parent against or for his children
29. When the sun moves from its meridian but before the Dhuhr prayer
30. The Dua of a Muslim for his brother without the latter’s knowledge
31. At the time the army advances to fight in the way of Allah.
Dua can be beautified and perfected by certain actions:
1. Have Wudu, face Qibla, be neat and clean
2. Raise both hands up to the shoulder with palms open facing up
3. Use the words of Allah and the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam)-i.e. Duas found in Quran and Hadith
4. Ask by Asma alHusna- Allah’s Beautiful Names
5. Ask Allah by your good deeds
6. Be insistent-repeat (i.e. 3x’s)
7. Glorify Allah and recite Durud for the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) at both the beginning and end.
8. Show humility, entreaty, desire and fear while making Dua
9. Repent and try to make amends where one has wronged
10. Confess mistakes, shortcomings, and sins
11. Keep voice between a whisper and speaking aloud
12. Show the need for Allah’s help and implore Him for release from weakness, hardship and tribulation.
13. Seize the opportunity of time, situation and circumstance in which prayers are answered
14. Avoid rhymed prose to keep concentration
15. Crying when making Dua
16. The Dua of Dhun-Nun (Prophet Yunus (As)) by which he invoked Allah from within the belly of the whale was: “La ilaaha illa Anta, Subhaanaka innee kuntu min aDH-DHaalimeen.”
17. End with “Alhamdulillah rabbil alameen”
So let us make sincre Dua in every condition and never think that it will not be accepted. Let us also make build a close relationship with Allah through Dua by which we ask of him, crying and begging of him in meekness, humility, humbling ourselves before him, especially in the latter portions of the night after Tahajjud time when most are asleep, as well as making Dua every chance we can get in order that we can increase our Imaan on a daily basis by getting closer to Allah.
10. Putting our trust in Allah
They only are the (true) believers whose hearts feel fear when Allah is mentioned, and when the revelations of Allah are recited unto them they increase their faith, and who trust in their Lord. (Qur’an; Al-Anfaal; 8:2)
Increasing iman through trusting Allah:
One of the most important things we should be aware of when trying to increase our iman is the vastness of Allahs mercy, compassion, and love. Therefore we should put our hope’s and trust in Him andcompletely submit our will upon him.
If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: If He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? In Allah, then, Let believers put their trust. 3:160
We should have patience and accept Allah’s Decree and accept that it is for the best and is meant to happen because he is the knower of all things and the Almighty and we should always realise that no matter what trials or hardships we face in this World, one day we will be called to account for our deeds which will hopefully be sent forth on theday of reckoning with much goodness and patience.
Almighty Allah says: “Say: ‘Nothing will happen to us except what Allah has decreed for us: He is our protector’: And on Allah let the Believers put their trust.” (Qur’an; At-Tauba: 51)
“And put thy trust on the exalted in Might, The Merciful.” (Qur’an; Ash-Shu’araa: 217)
“…Then, when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).” (Qur’an; Al-Imran: 159)
Whatever is meant for us will reach us:
Therefore whatever happens will happen by the decree of Allah and we cannot change that no matter what we do. So the best we can do is to accept it and to be patient and know that Allah is the all knowing and our creator so surely he knows what is best for us. It does not matter what we do, the result will be that we will receive what Allah has ordained for us. We can not add to it or subtract from it. What we do is either to benefit ourselves with the blessings of patience and obedience or harm ourselves with the consequances of our impatience and disobedience. Whatever is meant for us will reach us even if the whole world was to try and stop us from getting it, and what is not meant for us will not reach us even if the whole world was to help us to try and get it. So surely we should put our full trust in Allah.
Allah provides for all of his creations:
Each morning the birds go out to seek the provision Allah has given provided for them, and every night they comes home with what was meant for them. For Allah provides for ALL of his creation. Allah has also promised us our provision:
Umar Ibin Al Khattab (Ra) narrated that he heard the Prophet (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) say, “If you were to trust in Allah genuinely, He would give you provision as He does for the birds which go out hungry in the morning and come back full in the evening. (Tirmidhi & Ibin Majah).
We listen, obey and trust in Allah:
Trusting in Allah also means that when we hear or read of the commandments of Allah in the Qur’an or Sunnah that we obey it without question. We also recognise that we are limited, weak and vulnerable but Allah has no limits and he is all powerful. He knows what we do not know and knows us better than we know ourselves. We do not try to explain away the commands of Allah by saying that it is for another time or another people. We do not say that what Allah has commanded for us is oppressive. We accept and obey. This is faith and trust in that we realise that because he created us then surely he knows what is best for us in whatever he has ordained upon us.
Therefore the reward for putting our FULL trust in Allah can only be – Paradise. So we must stop resorting to our limited vision, knowledge and insight when it comes to certain matters and realise that Allah is the ONLY one who knows everything regarding every single aspect of our lives. Not a leaf falls without him knowing about it. Not a particle of dust that he does not know about. Not a single atom, proton or electron that he is not aware of. Therefore he knows best in ALL and EVERY matter while we know not, even though we may think we know.
Therefore let us have full trust in Allah, because when we put our trust in a human then they may let us down simply because they are human. But Allah will NEVER let us down so we can rest assured when we put our full trust in him!
I pray to You, O Allah, to make us trust you and only you. May you make us of the Trusting and keep us from trusting or worshipping our minds before you. Ameen.
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